Posts Tagged ‘Duane Allman’

One Of Those Days

July 5, 2022

Originally posted December 18, 2009

It’s one of those days. I got the kitten – our newest, Little Gus – to the vet for his last round of shots this morning, and that’s about all that’s gonna happen.

But I mentioned Wednesday that Duane Allman was one of the guitarists who played on Barry Goldberg’s 1969 album, Two Blues Jews, noting further that an Allman discography says that Duane played on the track “Twice A Man.”

So, here’s a treat to get us all through the day:

“Twice A Man” by Barry Goldberg with Duane Allman on guitar.
From Two Blues Jews [1969]

I’ll be back tomorrow with a Saturday Single.

‘Let Me Be Your Little Dog . . .’

July 1, 2021

We go on exploring versions of “Matchbox,” the song first written and recorded by Carl Perkins in 1957. (After a while, we’ll also explore the versions of “Match Box Blues,” first written and recorded in 1927 by Blind Lemon Jefferson. As I noted the other day, even if they are two different songs, they are at least cousins.)

As I do this, I’m just bouncing around the versions parked in the RealPlayer here and then checking out the lists at Second Hand Songs. I don’t know that I’ve got much original to say about any of these versions, but we’ll see.

In the first iteration of this blog, fourteen years ago, I shared the 1970 album Ronnie Hawkins, (recorded the year before at Muscle Shoals and released on the Cotillion label), which included Hawkins’ second stab at “Matchbox.” His first came a couple years earlier on an album titled Mojo Man released on Roulette. I’ve not checked out the 1967 version; if and when I do, I doubt I’ll like it as much as I like the 1969 recording.

As the track was included on the second of the two 1970s Duane Allman anthologies, it’s a good bet that Allman handles the lead work on Hawkins’ “Matchbox.” Others credited are Eddie Hinton on guitar, David Hood on bass, Roger Hawkins on drums, Barry Beckett and Scott Cushnie on keyboards and King Biscuit Boy on harp.

Back In ’73

July 18, 2019

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been looking at my radio listening and then my LP listening from first 1972 and then 1971, then ending the week with a Saturday Single from that year. It occurred to me sometime in the dreamy hours last night that some weeks ago, I addressed my radio listening during the summer of 1973 but I didn’t think to look at the LPs I’d added to the cardboard box in the basement in the year prior.

Never one to let an easy idea go unused, here’s a look at how my LP collection had grown between midsummer 1972 and the same time of year in 1973, and an assessment of how much those LPs matter to me now:

As the summer of 1973 passed by, I bought no new music. Even though my ideas of what I would find when I went to Denmark in September were very unclear, I was certain that saving five dollars to spend on a beer or three in Denmark in the autumn was a better choice than picking up something by Steely Dan at Axis on St. Germain Street downtown.

So once the calendar hit February 1973 and I knew I’d be going away in September, I spent almost no money on music. The two late winter exceptions, according to the LP database, were a used copy of J.J. Cale’s Naturally that I actually bought at Axis, and a double album of Fats Domino’s 1950s and early 1960s hits that I bought used from a co-worker at St. Cloud State Learning Resources. I think I paid a buck for the Cale and fifty cents for the Domino.

Here are the albums I added to the cardboard box in the rec room from mid-1972 to September 1973:

Beatles VI
A Hard Day’s Night by the Beatles
Live: The Road Goes Ever On by Mountain
In Search Of The Lost Chord by the Moody Blues
Stage Fright by The Band
Retrospective by Buffalo Springfield
Imagine by John Lennon
Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones
To Bonnie From Delaney by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
Seventh Sojourn by the Moody Blues
Naturally by J.J. Cale
Legendary Masters Series by Fats Domino
Exile on Main St. by the Rolling Stones
John Barleycorn Must Die by Traffic

The last two were gifts from a friend at The Table at St. Cloud State. He’d found them underwhelming and handed them to me one evening in June. And that was the last new music I got until May of the following year, 1974, when I spent about fifty Danish kroner – garnered from ten bucks Rick had sent me from home – to buy Sebastian’s Den Store Flugt, the first of what is now a substantial collection of Danish folk-rock and pop on my various shelves.

But back to the 1972-73 acquisitions: The first two entries completed my Beatles collection, giving me all eighteen of the American releases on Capitol/Apple and United Artists. I finished it, as I’d told Rick I would, just weeks before he began his senior year of high school. In the rankings of Beatles’ albums, A Hard Day’s Night was pretty good, but Beatles VI was a little blah. Some of the tracks from the first of those two are in the iPod, but few, if any, from the second are among my day to day listening; the CD shelves do hold everything from those two albums in the British configurations.

Again, I’m struck by how much of this music seems to be formative. Aside from the Beatles’ albums, eight of the twelve LPs listed there are on the CD shelves today, and I have two differently titled Fats Domino collections. The only albums listed there that are not replicated on the CD stacks are those by Mountain, Buffalo Springfield and John Lennon.

So how many tracks from those albums show up in the iPod?

There’s just one – the long version of “Nantucket Sleighride” – from the Mountain album, and none from In Search Of The Lost Chord, which to me has always been the least interesting of the Moody Blues’ 1960s and 1970s albums (though perhaps I should find room for “Legend Of A Mind” with its lilting chorus of “Timothy Leary’s dead . . .”).

The iPod offers eleven of the twelve tracks from the Buffalo Springfield compilation (excluding “Rock & Roll Woman” for some reason). Conversely, only the title track from Imagine is in my day-to-day listening, and that seems to be enough.

Elsewhere in the iPod, we find five tracks each from Sticky Fingers and Seventh Sojourn, four from To Bonnie From Delaney, all twelve tracks from Naturally, nine from Exile On Main St., four from John Barleycorn Must Die, and three from Stage Fright.

So, as I’ve concluded from earlier posts looking at the music acquired in 1970-71 and 1971-72, this stuff still matters greatly to me. Interspersed among the 3,900-some total tracks in the iPod, the tunes from those first three years of serious listening and collecting don’t pop up often, but when they do, they remind me of the foundations of my listening habits.

Here’s one of those foundational tracks: “Living On The Open Road” by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends from 1970. (One of those friends is Duane Allman, who adds slide guitar here.)

Saturday Single No. 574

January 20, 2018

Another question popped up on Facebook this week: My college friend Laura – with whom I’m in contact nearly every day but haven’t seen in the flesh for more than forty years (ain’t modern life marvelous?) – asked folks about their favorite toys as kids.

Not a lot of stuff came to mind from my younger years – I had a fair number of toys but no real favorites, I guess – but when I thought about my tween and teen years, I had a quick response. So I wrote briefly about my tabletop hockey game and posted a picture I found online of metal players from Toronto and Montreal. And I started thinking about my other diversions from those years.

And it didn’t take long before I thought about the dart board. I was maybe ten when I got it for Christmas. This was before the rec room went into half of the basement, so Dad found an empty spot on the basement wall with about ten feet of open space in front of it. On the wall, he installed a large piece of plywood with a hook in the middle from which to hang the actual dartboard.

And I was off and darting.

It was fun just throwing the darts, for a while. I learned how to keep score, finding out that the scoring in an actual match starts with 300 points (if I recall things correctly) and counts down from there. But I wanted to have some kind of competition that I could keep track of myself. So I took the four sets of three darts each that came with the board and made them into imaginary teams, kind of a National Dart League.

I thought about cities where I would base each team, and then I pondered nicknames. (I’d learned recently that Rob, across the street, was doing the same thing, creating imaginary teams for imaginary Dart2leagues – in his case, for a baseball game he had.) The orange darts became the Seattle Ravens. The green ones were the Trenton Cougars. The yellow darts were based in Portland, Oregon, and at first were the Yellow Jackets and later, one supposes under new imaginary ownership, the Lumberjacks (often shortened, as I did my sotto voce play-by-play, to ’Jacks). The blue darts were peripatetic, beginning as the Akron Hubs (a city/name combination I borrowed from Rob). Then I wanted something from my own imagination, and they moved to Texas and became the Austin Bullets, though I was not entirely satisfied with that. Finally, I decided to bring them home to Minnesota, though not in the Twin Cities. I parked them in Duluth, and in a nod to the history of French exploration and fur-trading in Lake Superior and the rest of the Northland, I named them the Voyageurs.

I don’t remember how I structured the matches or the schedule. But I spent many happy hours pairing the four teams against each other and keeping tracks of scores and matches won and lost. A few years later, when Dad built the rec room in the basement, the space configuration was changed, and the plywood sheet had to be moved. I wasn’t playing much by that time, anyway, and that Christmas, my Royal Canadian hockey game became my favorite winter pastime.

As you can see from the picture above, I still have the darts. They’ve traveled with me over the years in a greeting card box, and for the last nine years have been on a shelf in the room that serves as the EITW studios. I’ve been pondering what to do with them. I doubt that Goodwill or other places that seek donations would want them; they could easily be dangerous. And I see no point in packing them away in a box, as I’ll never use them again. But when I think about discarding them, it feels as if I’m about to throw away part of my childhood.

I’ll have to think about it.

So musically, where does that leave us? Well, I thought about offering something from the long-gone Dart label, the one-time home of Lightnin’ Hopkins, but then I thought about the word “games.” It shows up in a lot of record titles, of course, and I’ve decided to go with the Joe South tune “Games People Play,” as offered by King Curtis (with guitar work by Duane Allman). It’s from Curtis’ 1969 album Instant Groove, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Long Form No. 4

June 12, 2015

As I’ve noted many times in this space, one of the major influences on my listening life was the tape player in the lounge at the Pro Pace youth hostel in Fredericia, Denmark, during my junior year of college.

I moved to the hostel in late January 1974, after spending about four-and-half-months living with a Danish couple about my folks’ age on the other end of the city of 32,000. There were about fifty college kids still living at the hostel by the time I moved to Pro Pace. (The hostel’s name meant “For Peace” in Latin, and it was pulled from the motto of the city of Fredericia, Armatus Pro Pace, which means “Armed For Peace. It’s a long story.) And with that many kids crowded into sixteen small rooms, it’s no wonder that the lounge became the center of activity.

And, as I’ve also said before, it was in that lounge that I first heard Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and first knowingly heard the Allman Brothers Band and the first Duane Allman anthology, with its riches of Southern music as recorded by both the Allmans and by the artists on whose work Duane Allman played during his short life. The tapes we played were dubbed from vinyl, so we didn’t have the jacket notes. That meant that every once in a while, as something came from the speakers that caught my ear, I’d ask the fellow who brought the tape to Fredericia (or one of his pals) who was performing a particular piece of music.

I don’t know if I ever specifically asked anyone about Boz Scaggs’ take on “Loan Me A Dime,” one of the pieces included on the Duane Allman anthology, but nearly every time the tape rolled past John Hammond’s take on Willie Dixon’s “Shake For Me,” I’d be deeply interested in the song that followed. I’d listen closely as “Loan Me A Dime” moved with its descending bass pattern – a pattern that’s always grabbed me – through its slow section in 6/8 time, into its moderate jam in 4/4 and then its maelstrom of a closing jam in 2/2, with the piano runs whirling in between the fiery guitar runs and above the punching horns.

Winter in Denmark wasn’t cold – temperatures stayed above freezing most of the time – but it was dark: It was almost always cloudy from November into February, and the sun rose late and set early, even in late January. Add to that gloomy prospect the utter failure of a romantic pairing and add as well many hours spent in the lounge reading, studying, writing letters or simply being, and the words and music of “Loan Me A Dime” insinuated themselves deep into me:

I know she’s a good girl, but at that time, I just didn’t understand.
I know she’s a good girl, but at that time, I just could not understand.
Somebody better loan me that dime, to ease my worried mind.

Now I cry, just cry, just like a baby all night long
You know I cry, just cry, just like a baby all night long.
Somebody better loan me that dime. I need my baby, I need my baby here at home.

The Danish nights got shorter, and the days got brighter through February. I spent March and most of April riding the trains of Western Europe, and all the things I saw, added to time and to distance from the lost young lady, helped my heart begin to heal by the time I came home in May.

Once home, I reacquainted myself with the life I’d left behind almost nine months earlier, from my friends and family to the forty or so rock/pop/R&B LPs in a crate in the basement on Kilian Boulevard. I also began slowly – the pace dictated both by a lack of cash and by other things requiring my attention during that late spring and summer – adding to my collection the music I’d learned to love while I was away. My first addition was the Allmans’ Brothers and Sisters, in the first few days I was home. My second, in early September – I said it was a slow process – was the first Duane Allman anthology, with “Loan Me A Dime” as its centerpiece.

I’d probably been told in Denmark that the singer was Boz Scaggs, but I don’t know if I’d recalled that. I knew that the guitar work came from Allman, of course. But as I took in the thirteen minutes of “Loan Me A Dime” in our rec room for the first time, I no doubt looked at the jacket notes and learned the names of drummer Roger Hawkins, bassist David Hood, pianist Barry Beckett, guitarist Johnny Johnson and horn players Joe Arnold, Gene “Bowlegs” Miller and James Mitchell. I learned as well that the track came from Scaggs’ self-titled debut album from 1969.

More than forty years later, there are still a few tracks that in my memory belong more to the lounge in Fredericia than anywhere else: Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them” is one of them. Most of the music I first heard there, however, has traveled with me well and now belongs to me everywhere. It’s no longer limited to that distant and long-ago and cherished room.

“Loan Me A Dime” has traveled with me the best of all of them, perhaps. In the mid-1990s, I taught the song to Jake’s band during one of our weekly jams, and for the next few years, for twenty minutes a week, I got to be Barry Beckett (and for a couple of those years, in one of those marvelous and unlikely gifts that life can bring us, the fellow who brought the Allman anthology to Denmark would stand next to my keyboard and be Duane Allman).

And all of that is why Boz Scaggs’ “Loan Me A Dime” is Long Form No. 4.

Saturday Singles Nos. 124, 125 & 126

June 1, 2012

Originally posted April 18, 2009

Last week, as I began to look at the records I’ve purchased in April over the years, we got as far as 1989, when I was beginning to pack up after two years of teaching at Minot State University. A year later, in April of 1990, I moved from Minnesota to a Kansas hamlet, where a lady friend waited. I bought no records in April of 1990, and in July of that year, I moved from that small town in Kansas to Columbia, Missouri, to teach once more.

In the spring of 1991, the staff at the student radio station at Stephens College finished cleaning off its shelves. I’d gotten quite a few records in March; my April haul that month was minimal. I brought home some Jake Holmes, some Ides of March, a couple albums by the Sutherland Brothers and the Balkan Rhythm Band’s album The Jazziest Balkan Dance Band Around! I got a Barbra Streisand album at a garage sale and went to one of Columbia’s downtown emporiums to get the new Ryko release – on translucent green vinyl – of Ringo Starr’s first tour in 1989 with his All-Starr Band.

In August of 1991, it was back to Minnesota and to journalism, as I took a job in Eden Prairie, one of the Twin Cities’ southwestern suburbs, and I found an apartment in a northwestern suburb, leaving me with a twenty-mile commute through some of the thickest traffic in the Twin Cities. I liked my job, but I didn’t care for much else that was going on, and – and I find this remarkable – I didn’t buy a record from the end of July 1991, just before I left Columbia, until April of 1992, when I moved to Pleasant Avenue in south Minneapolis, five blocks from Cheapo’s.

In the first days of that April, a garage sale brought me a local gospel album by the Greater Sabathani Baptist Church Mass Choir, and later that week, on my first visit to Cheapo’s, I picked up Bruce Springsteen’s pair of new releases, Lucky Town and Human Touch. As the month wore on, I found Jesse Winchester, Dobie Gray’s Drift Away and Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s Dancer With Bruised Knees. In retrospect, that month’s purchases seem tentative. By the time April danced around again, I’d added more than a hundred and seven LPs to the stacks. (More likely to the growing collection of crates on the floor of my small apartment, as the big shelves themselves were beginning to be filled.)

Looking at the LP log this morning, I see a pattern I’d never noticed before, one for which I have no explanation. In the early 1990s, I bought lots of records during summer, fall and winter, and then – even living so close to Cheapo’s – my purchases tailed off in spring. The only reason I can think of is that, as a reporter whose work was tied closely to goings-on in the schools, spring was a busier season than the others. But April 1993 found me bringing home only three LPs: one by Billy Ocean, one by Sade and one by James Taylor. In April 1994, it was one album each by the Crystals, Boz Scaggs and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. In April 1995, it was one Eric Clapton album and one by Minnie Riperton. In April 1996, the month when I left journalism and began a two-and-a-half-year period of scuffling, I got LPs by Ringo Starr, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Hurricane Smith.

Cheapo’s moved eight blocks further away. My car died. I used my 1965 Schwinn to get around the neighborhood, and I rode Metro buses to get to my long-term temp jobs downtown. And I began to get real serious about buying records, as music seemed like the only thing at the time that was helping me maintain my equilibrium. Eleven LPs in April of 1997, starting with The Best of Delaney & Bonnie and ending with the O’Jays’ Collectors Items. April of 1998 brought me twenty-five LPs: The first was Muddy Waters’ Rolling Stone collection, the last was Cris Williamson’s Blue Rider, and the most interesting was likely Huey “Piano” Smith & His Clowns: The Imperial Sides 1960-61.

In April 1999, during the last spring I was within biking distance of Cheapo’s, I brought home fifty-seven records. The first was Cold Blood’s Thriller! The last was Jim Horn’s Neon Nights. And the most interesting? Probably Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares, the 1987 LP that followed in the path of the Nonesuch Explorer series, delving – for three more albums on vinyl and CD – into the odd, dissonant and compelling choral music of Bulgaria.

Fifty-seven records in one April. I don’t know if that’s a record for an entire month. I imagine we’ll find out as we go through the log month-by-month. I do know that come the next April, in early 2000, I was no longer in the workforce, I was seven miles further from Cheapo’s (though there were used record stores near where I lived, just none nearly as good), and, having gone online and digital, I was thinking a lot about CDs.

I bought two records in April 2000: the soundtrack to Dirty Dancing (to replace a damaged copy I’d had for years) and an anthology titled Guys With Soul Are The Greatest. In April 2001, I bought a sealed copy of Bruce Springsteen’s Live In New York City. And in 2002, I brought home an anthology of blues artists who recorded for Atlantic Records in the 1950 and 1960s.

By this time, the Texas Gal and I were in the ’burbs, planning our retreat to St. Cloud, and the majority of my record-shopping was done online. In April 2003, I got Eric Burdon Declares “War” and Johnny Jenkins’ marvelous Ton Ton Macoute!, some of which is laid on instrumental tracks that were intended for a Duane Allman solo album. By the time we got to St. Cloud, even online purchases were infrequent, and most of my vinyl hunting came at the occasional garage sale. April 2004 brought me two Steve Forbert LPs at a garage sale, and April 2007 brought me Shawn Phillips’ Collaboration (such a quiet album that I’ve never found a worthwhile vinyl copy although I’ve purchased maybe ten of them) and Jeannie C. Riley’s Harper Valley P.T.A. And last April, in a store I’d not seen before, tucked into a strip mall behind Red Lobster, I found R.B. Greaves and Very Extremely Dangerous by Muscle Shoals guitar stalwart Eddie Hinton.

Given such a mishmash of possibilities, I’ve decided to share three songs this morning. So, from vinyl ranging from near-pristine to well-used, here are your Saturday Singles:

“Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)” by R.B. Greaves from R.B. Greaves [1969]

“Karlov’s Gankino” by the Balkan Rhythm Band from The Jazziest Balkan Dance Band Around! [1983]

“Down Along The Cove” by Johnny Jenkins (with Duane Allman et al.) from Ton Ton Macoute! [1970]

Saturday Single No. 91

August 15, 2011

Originally posted September 20, 2008

It’s quiet here this morning. The Texas Gal is sleeping in – a just reward for about nine weeks of long Saturdays of effort – and two of the catboys are evidently keeping her company. (The third, young Henri, is at the vet’s for routine kitten surgery and will come home this afternoon.) The sun is beginning to peek through gaps in the canopy of oak leaves and evergreen branches that shelter the house.

Only the rumble of a passing train intrudes, but not all that much. The clatter of the wheels and cars is not too noisy, and the only other thing I notice is that the coffee in the mug on my desk trembles a little as the train rumbles along the tracks on the other side of Lincoln Avenue. That’s all.

It puts me in mind of another cup of coffee, another table, another city:

In September 1990, I was in my first month teaching journalism and writing at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, midway between Kansas City and St. Louis. And that autumn, earthquakes were on everyone’s mind. Beneath the soil where the states of Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky come together runs the New Madrid fault, named for a small Missouri town that lies atop it. The fault has a place in American history. In 1811 and 1812, when the area was sparsely populated, a series of earthquakes took place along the fault. Wikipedia says:

“The 1811 or 1812 New Madrid Earthquake . . . is one of the largest succession[s] of earthquakes, including the most intensive ever indirectly inferred (not recorded) in the contiguous United States, beginning with an initial pair of very large earthquakes on December 16th, 1811[,] plus aftershocks and other large related quakes separated by a succession of smaller aftershock quakes[,] with the largest event classified as a Mega-quake of greater than 8.0 on the Richter scale occurring on February 7, 1812.”

There are any number of fascinating books about the 1811-12 New Madrid quakes. I’ve read a few, including some with analyses that place the major quake a little lower on the Richter scale, but whatever its magnitude, the quake was huge. And the scary thing is that the fault has not triggered a major quake since then; basically, say scientists, a major quake is certain though no one, of course, knows when.

In the September 11, 2005, edition of the Commercial Appeal, a newspaper published in Memphis, Tennessee, Oliver Staley writes: “Experts predict there’s about a 10 percent chance of a massive earthquake in the next 50 years and a much greater chance of a smaller, yet still quite serious quake much sooner.”

I found that quotation at a fascinating website about the New Madrid fault. I also found there a reference to the event I recalled this morning. During that autumn of 1990, when I was living in Columbia, a climatologist by the name of Iben Browning, based in New Mexico, announced that there was a fifty percent chance of an earthquake along the New Madrid fault that December. His prediction was based on the theory of high tidal forces causing increased pressure on the fault. Needless to say, there was no major quake that December, and the many news folks who descended on New Madrid early that month went away quakeless but alive.

Earlier that autumn (and I do not recall if this was before or after Browning made his prediction), I was eating lunch at my dining room table in Columbia. My feet suddenly felt odd, as if they were vibrating, and I happened to glance at my coffee cup: the liquid was moving inside the cup. So I looked at the clock and noted the time, and that evening, the newscaster on one of the local stations reported that there’d been a minor tremor on the New Madrid fault that afternoon.

It had happened right at the moment my feet felt funny and my coffee was rippling. I was reminded of that this morning, and – as is my wont – went looking for a song with at least some connection. And that’s why – with no intention of making light of a situation that will someday almost certainly be disastrous – “Shake For Me” by John Hammond with Duane Allman on slide guitar, is this week’s Saturday Single.

John Hammond – “Shake For Me” [1970]

‘If I Never Get Well No More . . .’

May 11, 2011

Originally posted September 25, 2007

One of the most durable of blues songs is the tune “Going Down Slow,” sometimes called “Goin’ Down Slow.”

With more than 300 recordings of it in print – according to All-Music Guide – it’s one of those songs that allow one to pick and choose, finding just the right version for the right moment. And it’s a baffling song, in one way: Lots of people seem to have written it.

It’s familiar:

“I have had my fun, if I never get well no more.
“I have had my fun, if I never get well no more.
“All my health is failin’ on me, oh yes, I’m goin’ down slow.

”Please, write my mama, tell her the shape I’m in.
“Please, write my old mother, tell her the shape I’m in.
“Tell her to pray for me, forgive me for my sin.”

At any rate, according to at least one website, that’s the lyric as sung by Howlin’ Wolf, who released it as Chess single 1813 in 1962, with some spoken portions added by Willie Dixon. When it was released, the writing credit was given to James Burton. At the AMG website, numerous other writers are credited with creating the sturdy song. They include Champion Jack Dupree, Jimmy Witherspoon, Mance Lipscomb, James Booker, Brownie McGhee, Lightning Hopkins and more.

Odds are, however, that the track was written by a bluesman named James Burke Oden (1903-1977), also known as St. Louis Jimmy. He recorded “Going Down Slow” in Chicago on Nov. 11 in 1941. The song was released as Bluebird 8889 and credited to St. Louis Jimmy, according to the Online Discographical Project, which offers a wealth of information about 78 rpm releases.

I’ve never heard Oden’s version of the song. The earliest recorded version of it that I have is probably one by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, although it’s hard to tell. My sense is that the track I have is one of the recordings the duo did for Folkways records in the 1940s and 1950s, but I have yet to find a listing for the duo that has them recording the song with the running time of 3:05. I suppose it could be someone else doing the lead vocal, but it sounds like McGhee, and the harp (and whoops) are almost certainly the work of Sonny Terry.

Excluding that version, the Wolf’s version from 1962 is the earliest I have, and I also have a version he did during his London sessions in 1970. Long John Baldry recorded the song for his Long John’s Blues album in 1964 and re-recorded it in 1971 or so during the sessions for It Ain’t Easy. In 1967, Canned Heat put the song on its self-titled debut album, and the same year, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley did a raucous version of the tune on their messy Super Super Blues Band album.

I also have a version of the song that Muddy Waters recorded in 1971, likely at the Chicago nightspot called Mr. Kelly’s. And the most recent version of the song I have is the one that Eric Clapton released in 1998 on his album Pilgrim.

But the best version I’ve got in the collection – and the best version I’ve ever heard – comes from a surprising direction, at least vocally. It’s the lengthy version cut in February of 1969 at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals by Duane Allman, during sessions for a solo album that never came to pass.

Allman acquits himself fairly well as a vocalist, even though Tony Rice noted in the liner notes to Duane Allman: An Anthology that Duane once told him, “The cats in my band insist that I cannot sing a note . . . My voice is a scapegoat.” But it’s with his guitar, of course, that Allman makes the veteran song his own. With Berry Oakley on bass, Muscle Shoals stalwart Johnny Sandlin on drums and Paul Hornsby on piano, it’s a cover version of an oft-recorded song that is a delight to the ears.

Duane Allman – “Goin’ Down Slow” [1969]

In The Kitchen Before The Meal

April 23, 2011

Originally posted June 27, 2007

I got a package in the mail the other day. Actually, I got two – one was from my CD club: the re-mastered (and expanded with outtakes and single edits) version of Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow, the latest salvo in my campaign to replicate on CD as much of my classic rock record collection as I can afford. I’ve done well with that project over the last few years, despite getting sidetracked now and then by the lure of anthologies of blues, gospel and R&B from the years prior to my birth.

The other package was just as interesting: An LP sent by my friend Mitch in Alabama titled Duane & Greg Allman. (Yes, Gregg’s name was misspelled). On the Bold label, catalog number 33-301.

According to All-Music Guide, the record was released in 1972, although some sources say 1973. The material, though, was clearly recorded prior to the formation of the Allman Brothers Band in 1969, making the record an attempt by the Bold label to cash in on the fame of the Allmans. Well, that’s business, I guess. But beyond being a commercially crass (and classically American) move on the part of Bold, the record is also an interesting artifact, a look at the Allmans’ sound as it was developing, a sample of the banquet while it was cooking, one might say.

So I did some digging. According to a biography at CD Now of Scott Boyer, one of the early associates of the Allman brothers, the music on the LP came from sessions by a group called the 31st of February, which also included David Brown and future Allman drummer Butch Trucks. CD Now says that the sessions were sent as demos to Vanguard Records but were rejected before being released on Bold in 1971 as Duane and Gregg Allman, The Early Years.

Well, it doesn’t say “The Early Years” on the LP I got, and the year is off, but I have a sense that it’s the same recordings. And that seems to be the case, based on information from a Duane Allman chronology I consult from time to time. The site says that the Bold record, which it dates to 1972, is in fact the demo recordings of the 31st of February from 1968. The site also says that Duane and Gregg were studio musicians on the sessions rather than members of the group, which CD Now seems to indicate.

So, having figured out – for the most part – what I had, I dropped it on the turntable and gave it a listen. Side One is pretty clean for a thirty-six year old record, while Side Two has some surface noise. But still, I thought, not too bad. I decided to go ahead and rip it for today, noise and all.

Here’s the track listing:
Morning Dew
God Rest His Soul
Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
Come Down And Get Me
I’ll Change For You
Back Down Home
Well I Know Too Well
In The Morning When I’m Real

Probably the most intriguing cut on the record is the early version of “Melissa,” which was eventually released on 1971’s Eat A Peach album. The form of the later version is there, hiding in the shadows, waiting for Gregg to put a little more grit into it.

Other than that, nothing from the album is truly captivating. There are some nice moments, though. (According to a note at the Duane Allman discography, Duane plays on eight of the nine tracks, missing only “God Rest His Soul.”) “Morning Dew” has hints of the sound the brothers would discover with their own band in a year or so, as does “I’ll Change For You,” which to my ears carries a foreshadowing of the yet unrecorded “Dreams.” In the album’s penultimate track, “Well I Know Too Well,” I thought I heard echoes of the southern gospel that informed a fair amount of the two brothers’ musical legacy.

The rest of the tracks are pleasant but inconsequential, with the strange exception of the album’s closer, “In The Morning When I’m Real.” Obviously cut without Gregg contributing vocals, the track sounds like a bit of California pop, a tuneful and tasty bit of fluff oddly out of place next to the other eight tracks. (The surface noise increases during the track, which doesn’t help, either. I decided not to do any noise removal because I’ve found that doing that only serves to make a track as light as “In The Morning When I’m Real” sound tinny and pinched.)

Unlike most of the music I share here, I don’t think this is anything that will bear up to repeated listening. Some of it may, but not the entire album, I am certain. Nevertheless, I think this is one of those cases when the historic value of the music can be worthwhile. After all, it can be fun to see what went on in the kitchen before the meal was served.

Duane & Greg Allman [1972]

The View From The Dentist’s Office

February 11, 2010

An early morning trip downtown to see the dentist went as well as can be expected, I guess. The hygienist explained patiently – as she always does – the value of flossing regularly. The dentist saw no major problems.

Well, I guess that’s not quite true. I’m having a crown put on a broken tooth next month – that’s been planned for a while – and the dentist told me this morning that the adjacent tooth, which is still whole, will eventually need a crown, too. I am, the dentist said, a hard chewer, and after forty-some years, I am wearing that molar down.

Otherwise it was an uneventful – if slightly painful – visit.

Interestingly, the dentist’s office is in the same building where I used to go for dental work when I was a kid. It’s a six-story building on West St. Germain that during my younger years was the tallest building in the city, then called the Granite Exchange Building. (It’s since been renamed the Medical Arts Building, but the receptionist at my dentist’s office said there is some talk of restoring the old name, which would be kind of cool.) The building was supplanted as the city’s tallest in 1965 when a nine-story dormitory, the first of several high-rise dorms, went up at St. Cloud State. After that the Granite Exchange/Medical Arts Building remained the tallest private building in St. Could until sometime in the late 1970s, I think. (There are now maybe four or five private buildings in the city that are taller, along with the three college dorms.)

Anyway, the one thing that made visits to the dentist tolerable in the early 1960s was that our dentist’s office was on the fifth or sixth floor, and the chairs in his examining rooms were pointed toward the windows. Thus, while Dr. Hanson was poking around in my mouth, I could look at a portion of downtown St. Cloud from above, a delightful view unique for the time.

Sadly, my current dentist’s office is on the main floor of the same building, and the examining room I customarily visit has no windows. That’s all probably just as well. I’m not at all certain that the view from the fifth or sixth floor would be as captivating today as it was in 1964. I spent a year during the late 1990s working on something like the forty-fifth floor of a building in downtown Minneapolis, and I’ve been in a few buildings taller than that along the way, too. And, you know, I’m no longer eleven, and seeing the world from above is no longer the novelty it once was.

Here’s “Goin’ Upstairs” by Sam Samudio from Sam, Hard and Heavy [1971]

The title is the only thing about this piece of churning boogie – written by John Lee Hooker – that has any connection to this post, but that’s okay. Sam Samudio is better know – as you likely know – as Sam the Sham, who with his Pharaohs gave us two No. 2 hits – “Wooly Bully” and “Lil’ Red Riding Hood” – as well as four other Top 40 hits, all between 1965 and 1967. When Samudio recorded Sam, Hard and Heavy in Miami, Duane Allman was among the folks who helped out; Allman plays Dobro on this track.

– whiteray